Chapter 1
Overview of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

A Responsive Plan

Through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan (the Plan), the government has taken strong, immediate, and effective action to protect Canadians from the impacts of the pandemic. Canada entered this crisis with a strong balance sheet, the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, and historically low borrowing rates, giving the government the ability to respond to the immediate needs of Canadians with decisive action and protect the Canadian economy from the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first priority of the Plan is to protect the health and safety of Canadians by supporting efforts to contain the virus and help Canada’s public health and health care systems prepare for the pandemic.

On the advice of public health officials, jurisdictions across Canada took measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians through physical distancing, temporary restrictions on non-essential businesses and school closures. These measures had a significant impact on the daily lives of Canadians and their families and led to job losses and reduced employment income. The economic downturn is having a disproportionate impact on some segments of the population. The Plan was designed to provide support to those who need it the most.

The Plan is supporting workplaces of all sizes across sectors, protecting jobs from coast to coast to coast and helping Canadians return to work. It is also providing direct support to Canadians so that if they are not able to work they can keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table and pay their bills during this difficult period.

Through this Plan, the government has committed:

The government has also made $600 billion in liquidity support accessible to help ensure that businesses could continue to access credit and to promote well-functioning provincial funding markets. Liquidity support has been delivered in coordination with the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and commercial lenders.

The government continues to take the necessary steps to implement the Plan and ensure timely access to the income support and credit relief that Canadians and businesses of all sizes across this country need to manage the pressures they are facing as a result of COVID-19.

The measures introduced in the Plan, combined with over $65.6 billion in direct support and liquidity measures from provinces and territories, will ensure that the Canadian economy is well-positioned to recover when the crisis subsides.

Table 1.1
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response –Federal, Provincial and Territorial Support Summary
  Federal Provincial and Territorial Total
Impact ($ billions)1
Direct2 231.9 24.1 256.0
Tax, Customs Duty payment and Fee Deferrals 85.0 38.2 123.2
Liquidity3 86.5 3.3 89.8
Total 403.4 65.6 469.0
Share of Spending (per cent)
Direct 91 9 100
Tax, Customs Duty payment and Fee Deferrals 69 31 100
Liquidity 96 4 100
Total 86 14 100

Note

1 Sources: Provincial and territorial government announcements; Department of Finance calculations. As of July 3, 2020. For federal totals, the data reflects the total impact which differs from fiscal cost on an accrual basis – see Annex 2 for additional details. Totals may not add due to rounding.

2 Direct federal measures include a series of supports for the health sector and safety of Canadians to be comparable with the provincial-territorial measure categorization. It also includes the approximately $14 billion announced by the government to support provinces and territories in the safe reopening of the country’s economies over the next 6 – 8 months.

3 Federal liquidity measures include the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) and credit and liquidity support for the agricultural sector. For comparison purposes, this does not include other credit and liquidity support measures ($600 billion) made available by the federal government in coordination with the Bank of Canada, OSFI, CMHC and commercial lenders. Provincial support includes credits and other deferrals.

A Decisive and Rapid Response

Recognizing the acute impact of the pandemic on Canadians, the government’s approach was to rapidly move forward with support measures and to tailor them once the main elements were in place. The priority was getting support out to Canadians as quickly as possible, and the government did so through a mix of existing systems and the rapid design and delivery of brand new programs.

The Plan is focussed on three broad areas of support:

Health Care System and Safety of Canadians
  • Includes provinces and territories, industry and research organizations, international partners and Canadians abroad

Support to Individuals
  • Includes workers, students, families, seniors, and vulnerable groups

Support to Businesses
  • Includes small, medium and large enterprises, and hard-hit sectors

Protecting the Health of Canadians

Since the beginning of March, the government has made a number of key investments to help provinces and territories ensure that hospitals, clinics, and public health agencies across the country are able to respond to the critical health needs of Canadians caused by COVID-19 and to limit the spread of the virus in Canada.

Canada reacted quickly to reduce the risk of cases being imported from abroad, announcing on March 16 the closure of its non-U.S. international borders to non-residents and announcing on March 20, the closure of its border with the United States.

Canada also took timely action with respect to testing and investing in a health response early on. Screening for COVID-19 was implemented widely and at a greater rate per capita than other countries at the outset of the outbreak. Currently, Canada continues to have a high testing rate internationally. Canada also announced investments of $275 million on March 11, 2020 to fund COVID-19 research and development to give Canada a head start in dealing with the outbreak.

Preparing our Public Health Care Systems

Canada took early and significant actions to support the capacity of health care systems across the country. On March 11, 2020, the Prime Minister also announced $500 million for provinces and territories to support critical health care systems, as well as access to testing, acquisition of equipment, and to enhance surveillance and monitoring.

In addition, on May 3, 2020, the government announced $240.5 million to develop, expand, and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians. Working with provinces, territories, and stakeholders, this investment will be used to create digital platforms and applications, improve access to virtual mental health supports, and expand capacity to deliver health care virtually, including projects to reach vulnerable Canadians. These supports ensure Canadians can continue to access health care, while reducing the possibility of their exposure to COVID-19.

Procuring Personal Protective Equipment

The federal government is working to ensure that Canada and all its provinces and territories have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and are prepared for the months and years ahead. As the demand for PPE goes up around the world, Canada is keeping up. From the outset of this crisis, Canada’s strategy has been to aggressively procure PPE in a highly competitive global marketplace and to diversify its supply chains, especially by engaging domestic suppliers. Canada will remain vigilant in procuring vital supplies to keep our doctors, nurses and frontline health care workers well-equipped and keep all Canadians safe in the months and years ahead.

The Government of Canada is investing $2 billion to support diagnostic testing and to purchase ventilators and personal protective equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories. Personal protective equipment includes things like masks and face shields, gowns, and hand sanitizer.

Investing in Made-in-Canada Personal Protective Equipment

On March 20, 2020, the Government of Canada sent a call to action to Canadian businesses and manufacturers to help deliver critical health supplies in order to help Canada fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, over 6,000 Canadian companies, organizations and individuals have stepped up to offer their expertise and capacity.

This includes efforts from companies to re-tool their facilities and double their production capacity, to collect and donate existing supplies and equipment, and to combine resources to manufacture needed supplies more quickly.

Supporting Medical Research and Vaccine Development

Researchers and scientists in Canada and around the world are working hard to better understand the virus and its impacts on people and communities. Through this Plan, the government has committed nearly $1.4 billion to support COVID-19 medical research and vaccine development. This funding is enabling researchers and the private sector to accelerate the development, testing and implementation of medical, social and policy countermeasures to limit the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Of this support, $792 million will be provided through the Strategic Innovation Fund and the remaining funding will be directed to a number of research and development organizations, including: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre, the National Research Council’s Human Health Therapeutics Royalmount facility, the Canadian Immunization Research Network and the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network.

Canada has also established a COVID-19 Immunity Task Force to track the spread of the virus and estimate potential immunity in Canadian populations.

Leveraging Canadian Expertise

$46 million will be directed to support the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), one of the largest and most advanced infectious disease research facilities in the world.

With this funding, VIDO-InterVac will be able to strengthen its existing expertise in coronavirus research, help research and develop a vaccine for COVID-19, and expand its bio-manufacturing capacity to support clinical trials.

Protecting Jobs

Protecting Canadian jobs has been a priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as businesses have slowed down in accordance with public health guidance, finding solutions to preserve the connection between employees and employers is critical to Canada’s continued economic resilience.

The government has provided support for businesses of all sizes, across sectors, from coast to coast to coast. The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is ensuring workplaces can get the liquidity support they need to maintain operations and keep employees on. Support through each of Canada’s six Regional Development Agencies is ensuring businesses in all communities, including in rural communities, get access to the support they need to protect jobs and weather this storm.

Through a variety of programs, tailored to the varying needs of Canada’s diverse economy, the federal government is making sure that businesses can get flexible support, so that Canada’s economy is stable and so that Canadians’ jobs are protected.

Wage Top-Up for Essential Workers

While public health authorities asked Canadians to stay home, millions of brave workers risked their health to provide Canadians with essential care and services. Every day they went to work so that our families could stay safe and healthy. The Government of Canada believed that they deserved a raise.

The government has worked with provinces and territories on cost-shared wage top-ups for essential workers, providing up to $3 billion for this program. Each province and territory is determining which workers are eligible for support and how much they will receive. This much-needed and much-deserved support is there for workers in essential service sectors such as health, food, water, transportation, safety and others who are keeping Canada strong and healthy during this difficult time.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

To help keep Canadians employed and support businesses, the government introduced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – a wage subsidy of 75 per cent for qualifying employers, up to $847 per week per employee, beginning March 15, 2020.

CEWS gives employers financial support so they can keep or re-hire their workers. To date, CEWS has made sure millions of Canadian workers are still getting paycheques from their employer and are ready to be back at work as soon as public health measures allow.

By protecting the employee-employer relationship, this program also ensures supply chains are able to rebound from the crisis in a strong position.

Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible, with certain exceptions. When first launched, the program was intended to last 12 weeks, beginning March 15. To receive the subsidy, eligible employers had to have seen a drop of at least 15 per cent of their revenue in March 2020 or 30 per cent in April or May.

Taking into consideration the comments of key business and labour organizations during April and early May, the government announced on May 15, 2020 a proposal to extend the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020.  

The government consulted with businesses, labour representatives, not-for-profit organizations and registered charities as well as individual Canadians on potential adjustments to the CEWS that would maximize employment and reflect the needs of employers. 

As economies reopen and business activity resumes, the government will soon announce changes to the CEWS to stimulate rehiring, provide support to businesses during reopening and help them adapt to the new normal. In anticipation of this forthcoming announcement, the government has set aside additional funding as part of the 2020 Economic and Fiscal Snapshot. 

Supporting Individuals and Families

In March, the government announced $5.5 billion in financial support for low- and modest-income Canadians through a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Credit.  This support was delivered in April to over 12 million individuals and families, giving, on average, single adults almost $400 more, and couples almost $600 more. 

In May, to help families with children cope with the added pressures of COVID-19, the government delivered almost $2 billion in additional support through a special one-time $300 top-up of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for each child. In the vast majority of cases, the increased CCB directly benefitted mothers, including single mothers who represent about 85 per cent of single-parent families receiving the benefit. The increased CCB was particularly helpful for low-and modest-income families, with about one-quarter of the additional support provided to families with net incomes under $30,000.

A Middle Income Family of Four

Nathan and Emily live with their two young children.

  • Nathan is a self-employed barber who makes an annual income of approximately $34,000. When the lockdown began, he was unable to provide services to any of his clients due to the closure of the barbershop where he works, leaving him with no income for the month of April.
    • Nathan was able to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and received $2,000 a month during April and May which represents just over 70 per cent of his regular monthly income before taxes. As a result of the expanded eligibility rules announced in April, Nathan was also able to take on a small contract (less than $1,000) mid-May providing haircare tutorials online without affecting his CERB eligibility. Should he require it, Nathan will be able to access the CERB up to a maximum of 24 weeks. Nathan was also able to take advantage of the GST/HST deferral, which provided much-needed cash-flow relief during the initial months of the crisis.
  • Emily is the manager of a local restaurant and she had an annual salary of $60,000. She was furloughed when the restaurant was forced to fully close on March 15 due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions and was able to return to work at the end of May now that certain public health restrictions in her community have been lifted.
    • Emily has been able to receive paycheques thanks to the CEWS program, receiving the maximum of $847 per week. Her salary was funded while she was furloughed and continues to be funded now that she is an active employee through the CEWS. Emily’s employer may continue to be able to access the CEWS until August 29, 2020. Her Canada Student Loan repayments were also deferred beginning March 30, until September 30, which represents savings of, on average, $160 per month.

In addition to the CERB and CEWS income support, Nathan and Emily received a $600 top-up in their CCB payment for May to help support their family’s needs. Combined, these measures provided Nathan and Emily up to $20,152* in financial support between March 15-July 4 to help them through this difficult time.

A Low Income Family of Four

Luc and Jada are a young couple with two young children.

  • In mid-March, Luc was laid off by his employer in the construction industry where he was receiving a salary of $700 per week. He was not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
    • After applying in early April, Luc started to receive income support of $2,000 monthly through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). In early May, he received notice from his former employer that his position was being re-instated as of May 11, as the company claimed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to help cover the cost of his salary. The CEWS will subsidize 75 per cent of Luc’s wages upon his return to work.
  • Jada is currently a part-time student in the third year of her Bachelor of Commerce program.
    • During the summer, Jada works part time for a seasonal gift shop to help pay for her tuition and the family’s day-to-day expenses. She was told that the shop would not be opening until later this summer and she is now worried that she may not be able to afford classes in the fall. Changes to the Canada Student Loans Program will help ensure Jada is able to return to school in the fall, since she will receive additional financial assistance, including up to $7,440 in non-repayable grants, which she can use to cover her expenses in September. Further, to help with managing the family’s bills this summer, Jada will be eligible to receive the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which provides her with $2,000 per month, for any month she is unable to find work between May and August 2020.

The family also received a special GST Credit Top-up payment of $886 in April and their May CCB payment was boosted by $600. These supports provided Luc and Jada up to $13,686* between March 15 – July 4 to help them support their family’s needs and up to $7,440 in non-repayable student financial assistance will be available to help with Jada’s tuition in the Fall.

*Taxes on these amounts are not reflected.

Supporting Seniors

The pandemic has been especially difficult for Canadian seniors—they face the most significant health risks from COVID-19 and have been isolated from family and loved ones in order to reduce their risk of exposure. They are also facing financial vulnerabilities as volatile markets affect their retirement savings. Seniors may have to remain isolated for longer than others and may also face additional expenses, such as delivery service fees. The government has introduced a range of measures to support seniors.

A Single Low-Income Senior

Laurence is a seventy-year-old single senior. She receives a CPP retirement pension as well as income from a workplace pension, besides OAS and GIS benefits as well as the GST Credit.

  • In April, Laurence received $443 from the special GST Credit top-up payment, the maximum amount for a single adult with no dependent children.
  • Laurence is taking precautions to avoid exposure to the virus and is isolating. She was able to join phone-based get-togethers with friends thanks to the efforts of a local seniors support group. Another community group has arranged to deliver her groceries a couple of times. The government has provided a $9-million contribution to the United Way, and is providing additional new funding of $20 million to the New Horizons for Seniors program this year, to further support such activities.
  • In the week of July 6, Laurence will be receiving $500 from the one-time payment for seniors eligible for OAS and GIS ($300 in respect of OAS and another $200 in respect of GIS).

Taken together, the special GST Credit Top-up payment and the one-time payment for seniors eligible for OAS and GIS will provide Laurence $943 in financial support.

Supporting Vulnerable Canadians

COVID-19 is having disproportionate health, social and economic impacts on vulnerable populations. The government has introduced a series of measures to ensure that vulnerable Canadians have access to the supports they need. These include, for example:

To respond to the significant challenges that Canadians with disabilities are facing because of COVID-19, as they work to access essential services and care and provide for their families, the government is stepping up to make sure they have the support they need to make it through this crisis.

Supporting Indigenous Communities

COVID-19 has further highlighted many existing challenges facing Indigenous peoples, particularly, those who live in remote areas. Indigenous communities are incredibly resilient and have implemented innovative solutions to prevent the spread and manage the impact of COVID-19.

The government has introduced a number of measures to build on community-led solutions and support an immediate public health, social and economic response in Indigenous communities, investing over $1.4 billion so far:

Additional information on how the Plan addresses a number of the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on various groups of people within Canada can be found in the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Summary of the Plan below as well as in Annex 1 of this report.

Delivering Immediate Income Support

Through the Plan, the government has sought to provide generous income support to those most affected by the crisis, while simultaneously creating incentives for safe participation in the labour market.

In the months that followed the introduction of the Government’s first response measures, Canadians have been able to access the income support they need and are less anxious about their financial situation than they expected to be at this time (Chart 1.1).

According to a recent survey by the Angus-Reid Institute, 30 per cent of those surveyed in March initially expressed concern over their ability to pay rent or their mortgage. In May, the data showed that this concern had not materialized for the vast majority of Canadians, with 6 per cent having been unable to pay these monthly bills during this period. Further, Canadians expressed increased confidence about an economic recovery, with households feeling relatively confident about their own personal finances.

Chart 1.1

Canadian Household Economic Concerns
(March 20-23 versus May 4-6, 2020)

Chart 1.1a: Canadian Household Economic Concerns (March 20-23 versus May 4-6, 2020)

Source: Angus Reid Institute, Study - 'Perpetual Pandemic: Canadians say post-COVID-19 'return to normal' is far off' dated May 15, 2020.

  • Text version
    March - Expected May - Expected May - Actual
    Rent / Mortgage Payment Concerns 30 17 6
    Food Bank Usage Concerns 14 10 6
Canadian Consumer Confidence
(June 14, 2019 to June 26, 2020)
Chart 1.1b: Canadian Consumer Confidence (June 14, 2019 to June 26, 2020)

Note: A score above 50 indicates net positive views, while a score below 50 indicates the opposite. The Pocketbook Index is based on perceptions related to personal finances and job security, and the Expectations Index is based on perceptions related to economic strength and real estate value.
Source: Bloomberg Nanos

  • Text version
    Expectations Index Pocketbook Index
    Jun
    2019
    54.0122 59.7872
    Jun
    2019
    54.7422 60.7659
    Jun
    2019
    55.2853 61.3183
    Jul
    2019
    55.8118 61.6934
    Jul
    2019
    56.3353 61.7925
    Jul
    2019
    55.776 60.897
    Jul
    2019
    55.3065 61.1465
    Aug
    2019
    55.4305 61.6762
    Aug
    2019
    54.7737 60.8783
    Aug
    2019
    54.0527 60.5799
    Aug
    2019
    53.3181 60.7418
    Aug
    2019
    52.4596 60.4245
    Sep
    2019
    52.035 60.911
    Sep
    2019
    52.389 61.0902
    Sep
    2019
    53.8302 60.9258
    Sep
    2019
    55.1232 60.5556
    Oct
    2019
    56.0992 60.3822
    Oct
    2019
    55.8435 60.1362
    Oct
    2019
    55.5099 59.5695
    Oct
    2019
    55.0853 59.7842
    Nov
    2019
    54.5752 58.9108
    Nov
    2019
    54.2133 59.7997
    Nov
    2019
    53.3526 59.0975
    Nov
    2019
    52.4153 57.5901
    Nov
    2019
    51.9724 57.7033
    Dec
    2019
    52.8424 57.3301
    Dec
    2019
    52.2855 58.2452
    Dec
    2019
    53.5891 59.7841
    Dec
    2019
    53.6848 59.9131
    Jan
    2020
    53.2179 59.8492
    Jan
    2020
    54.053 60.0725
    Jan
    2020
    52.9751 59.1781
    Jan
    2020
    54.3944 58.6204
    Jan
    2020
    54.6585 58.0982
    Feb
    2020
    54.6987 57.3217
    Feb
    2020
    55.6125 58.1864
    Feb
    2020
    54.5553 58.6793
    Feb
    2020
    53.4829 58.1446
    Mar
    2020
    52.1781 58.8146
    Mar
    2020
    49.7603 58.8138
    Mar
    2020
    43.959 58.7159
    Mar
    2020
    36.5043 57.3575
    Apr
    2020
    30.4699 54.8501
    Apr
    2020
    25.3034 52.0621
    Apr
    2020
    23.5679 50.8571
    Apr
    2020
    24.1619 50.0021
    May
    2020
    24.9036 50.5657
    May
    2020
    25.9986 51.4579
    May
    2020
    25.5664 52.1459
    May
    2020
    25.4738 53.1614
    May
    2020
    25.5972 53.325
    Jun
    2020
    28.118 53.94
    Jun
    2020
    32.1256 53.5959
    Jun
    2020
    36.9294 53.7823
    Jun
    2020
    37.86 54.1700

This massive effort to help support households has helped to stabilize the Canadian economy when it was needed most and helped to protect the most vulnerable from the immediate effects of an unprecedented economic crisis.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

From the beginning of the crisis, the government recognized that an unprecedented number of Canadians were going to need income support. Unlike many other countries, Canada proactively established new programs to ensure that people who needed it could get simple and timely access to income supports to help cover their essentials.

In mid-March, record levels of Employment Insurance (EI) claims were made. It was clear that the EI system could not handle this sudden surge in volume. There were also hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including contract and self-employed workers, who were not eligible for EI.

The government immediately recognized the urgency of providing financial support to millions of vulnerable Canadian families and created a new benefit, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB has provided payments of $2,000 per month to millions of individuals.

The program was originally designed to provide 16 weeks of support but as economies slowly and safely restart, many Canadians still face challenges. To ensure Canadians continue to have the help they need as they transition back to work, the government has extended the CERB for up to a total of 24 weeks. As announced by the Prime Minister on June 16, the government will monitor international best practices, the economy, and the progression of the virus and, if needed, make necessary changes to the program later this summer so people can have the help they need while supporting the recovery.

Figure 1.1
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Take-Up
Figure 1.1: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Take-Up
  • Text version
    This figure shows illustrate the uptake for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. It shows that there have been 8.16 million unique applicants and that $53.53 billion dollars has been paid to recipients. The data is current as of June 28, 2020.

In aggregate terms, CERB payments made from mid-March to May have largely replaced all the employment income lost by Canadians during the pandemic (Chart 1.2). For lower-income and vulnerable Canadians, who were especially hard-hit by the crisis, this support has been critical in helping them afford essentials like rent, groceries and medicine.

Chart 1.2
Weekly Earnings Shortfall Versus Average Weekly CERB Payment (March to May)
billions of dollars
Chart 1.2: Weekly Earnings Shortfall Versus Average Weekly CERB Payment (March to May)

Note: The average weekly amount paid by the CERB is taken from administrative data. Average weekly earnings are seasonally and working-day adjusted. Income is not available for the self-employed in the Labour Force Survey, so it is assumed that the wages of the self-employed are 2/3 those of paid employees in calculating earnings losses for this group.
Source: Statistics Canada, Department of Finance calculations.

  • Text version
      billions of dollars
    Average Weekly Earnings Shortfall (May and April) 3.52
    Average Weekly Amount Paid by CERB as of May 16 4.17

Not all groups have been equally affected by the economic crisis (Chart 1.3). Women have experienced more layoffs and a larger reduction in hours worked, with fewer able to get back to work as the economy began to recover in May. Low-wage workers, youth and very recent immigrants bore the brunt of employment losses in March and April. Moreover, working parents have also been hard hit by the downturn, with the working hours of mothers of young kids falling proportionally more than other mothers, reinforcing the important role of child care in helping Canadians return to work when jobs become available.

Chart 1.3
Share of Workers Substantially Affected by COVID-19, by Age and Sex, February to May
Chart 1.3a: Share of Workers Substantially Affected by COVID-19, by Age and Sex, February to May
Note: Data are seasonally adjusted. Significant loss of hours is defined as those working less than half of their usual hours, including zero hours.
Source: Statistics Canada, Department of Finance Canada calculations.
  • Text version
    All
    Canadians
    Women Men Youth
    (15-24)
    Prime
    (25-54)
    Older
    (55+)
    Layoffs 14.14791 15.95345 12.51637 33.02389 11.22924 11.31614
    Significant hours loss 11.30624 10.08247 11.729 10.87191 11.75487 14.07131
Decline in Total Hours Worked by Women by Age of Youngest Child, February to May
Chart 1.3b: Decline in Total Hours Worked by Women by Age of Youngest Child, February to May
Note: Data show per cent contribution from change in employment and average hours worked, February to May, and are seasonally adjusted.
Source: Statistics Canada, Department of Finance Canada calculations.
  • Text version
    Under 6 6-12 13-17 18-24 No kids under 25
    Layoffs 6.518414 6.940731 6.156297 8.007677 21.29554
    Average Hours Worked 17.93681 11.16402 14.11101 11.85683 7.853287

For some groups, including youth and very recent immigrants, employment has shown very little recovery in May. These results reflect the staggered approach to re-opening the economy and employment patterns across groups. Certain sectors like manufacturing and construction work, which account for a greater proportion of men employed, have seen employment rebounding, while other sectors like accommodation and food services, which employs a large number of women and immigrants, are still slowed down because of public health measures and low levels of demand. Addressing these very real gaps in employment as they evolve remains a priority for the government. Although our data does not yet fully capture the unique experiences of racialized Canadians, we recognize that racialized people, including Black Canadians, are more likely to work frontline jobs, have lower incomes, have health disparities, and experience systemic discrimination, which compound economic hardships related to the pandemic.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

Post-secondary students and recent graduates are also feeling the impacts of the pandemic. They are at a critical stage of life, needing income at the end of the school year to help with living expenses or save for next semester’s tuition, but are facing a challenge finding work due to COVID-19. Additionally, women are already facing increased unemployment during COVID-19 and may make up more of the student population that is ineligible for CERB, as around 60 per cent of all post-secondary students in Canada are women. Further, students are highly likely to be below the age of 29, and are less likely to have the financial security to weather a period of unemployment.

To support students and new grads who do not qualify for the CERB or EI, and who are unable to find employment or unable to work because of COVID-19, the government created the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The CESB, available for four months (from May to August 2020), was designed to address the unique labour market challenges of students and support them as they work towards their goals.

Figure 1.2
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) Take-Up
Figure 1.2: Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) Take-Up

As of July 2, 2020

  • Text version
    This figure illustrates the uptake for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. It shows that there have been 601,356 unique applicants and that $1.42 billion dollars has been paid to recipients. The data is current as of July 2, 2020.

Additionally, 165,008 applications have been received for the enhanced benefit amount, which provides an additional $750 per month on top of the $1,250 base benefit amount to eligible students with dependants or a disability.

According to a crowdsourcing survey conducted by Statistics Canada from April 19 to May 1, 2020, prior to the announcement of the CESB, 73 per cent of continuing post-secondary students were very or extremely concerned about using up their savings and 61 per cent were very or extremely concerned about increased student debt. After the announcement, these shares declined to 61 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively.

Low Income Student (Post-Secondary)

Anna is a 20-year-old student who recently completed her second year of full-time studies.

Last year, Anna worked full-time during the summer, earning minimum wage ($2,400 per month), in order to cover her living expenses while living away from home and to save for the upcoming school year. Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 health emergency, Anna did not find a full-time job this summer, leaving her unable to pay for immediate expenses such as rent and food, while also putting in jeopardy her ability to continue her studies in the fall. Anna is not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) or for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), since she was not employed when the health emergency began.

  • To provide much needed support over the summer, Anna will receive the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which will provide her with $1,250 per month from May through August 2020.
  • While receiving the CESB and continuing to look for work, Anna decided to volunteer in a service position with a local community organization to support the broader COVID-19 response. Anna’s contribution will be recognized through the Canada Student Service Grant, which will provide up to $5,000 towards her post-secondary education costs in the fall.
  • To further ensure that Anna is financially able to return to campus in September, changes to the Canada Student Loans Program will mean Anna will receive up to $6,000 in non-repayable financial assistance, support that Anna can use to cover tuition, books and living expenses.
  • In April, Anna received a special GST Credit top-up payment of $290 to help her cover immediate expenses.
  • Anna will receive $1,250 for each month she is unable to find work, from May to August 2020, for a maximum of $5,290 in income support. She is also eligible for up to $11,000 in non-repayable grants to cover her post-secondary education costs in the fall.

Building a Bridge for Businesses

The Plan has been focused on creating bridge financing for businesses of all sizes, and helping them deal with their fixed costs during this crisis, so they can remain solvent and keep Canadians employed. Supports for businesses have been tailored by firm size and relative access to other sources of financing. They are designed to provide a continuum of financing support across the economy to make sure that, no matter where Canadians work, the government is providing support.

Figure 1.3
Range of Business Segments Considered for Financing Support1
Figure 1.3: Range of Business Segments Considered for Financing Support

1Thresholds used for illustrative purposes.

  • Text version
    This figure illustrates the range of business segments considered for financing support under Canada's COVID Economic Response Plan including, as follows: small businesses with revenue less than $1 million to $20 million; medium (or mid-sized) businesses with revenues of $20 million to $50 million; mid-market businesses with revenues from $50 million to $300 million; and, large businesses with revenues of greater than $300 million. Note that these revenue thresholds are used for illustrative purposes only.

The goal of the Plan is to help businesses access the credit they need to weather the current crisis and so they can be there for their employees and Canadians when this passes. Business financing supports are intended to be comprehensive, fair and temporary. They have been timely and sequenced, with the required speed and flexibility at the small business level. For larger firms, a more commercial approach was developed to meet their financing needs, as these firms tend to have more potential sources of financing. 

Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Revenues <$1M-$50M
  • Income Tax, Sales Tax and Customs Duty Payment Deferrals
  • Business Credit Availability Program
    • Canada Emergency Business Account
    • Small to Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program
  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for Small Businesses
  • Additional support via Regional Development Agencies, Community Futures Program, and the National Research Council, Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • Indigenous and Northern Business Supports
  • Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Funding
  • Fish Harvester Grant
  • Enhancements to the Work-Sharing Program

From the start, the government was focused on providing support to small businesses in the fastest way possible. 98 per cent of all employers in Canada are small businesses. They provide good local jobs and are often at the heart of their communities. These businesses often have comparatively more limited access to capital and financing than larger firms. Small businesses also often have a limited capacity to service additional debt and need targeted support to manage fixed costs. The Plan provides targeted support to small businesses, helping them bridge through this challenging economic period.

Figure 1.4
Key Supports for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Figure 1.4: Key Supports for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
  • Text version
    This figure illustrates the key supports provided to small and medium-sized businesses under Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. It groups these supports into three areas - income and wages, rent and credit support. Under Income and Wages - supports include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. For credit support, small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from the Business Credit Availability Program and small businesses can apply for support through the Canada Emergency Business Account. Finally, for rent support, the graphic illustrates that small businesses can benefit from the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance.

Measures for small businesses have been designed to provide timely support for those struggling to manage fixed costs, such as salaries and rent. Under the Plan, small businesses affected by COVID-19 are able to benefit from the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), which, in partnership with the provinces and territories, provides forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by eligible small businesses by 75 per cent. This, in addition to the CEWS, will offer significant relief to small businesses struggling to manage their monthly fixed costs.

As of July 3, CMHC, the CECRA program administrator, has approved applications representing over 29,000 small businesses with over 209,000 employees, and total requested funding of over $221 million. In addition to thousands of applications from property owners in progress or being processed, CMHC is working closely with large property owners to complete applications to provide rent support to a further 25,000 small businesses. CECRA funding to date has been provided to a broad cross-section of Canadian small businesses in all provinces and territories, including restaurants, retail stores, medical and dental clinics, hair and nail salons, gyms and dance studios, and many more. To provide further support as hard hit businesses begin to re-open, the Government has since announced that CECRA will be extended a further month, covering July rent.

Local, Family-owned Restaurant

Sammy owns a family-run restaurant that his parents opened when they immigrated to Canada.

  • In March, to comply with emergency measures, Sammy was forced to temporarily close the restaurant, and layoff the restaurant’s employees with no pay. Sammy’s restaurant never offered take-out or delivery, but, on April 19, Sammy decided to offer these services to the community, and was able to hire back four of his staff, each with a salary of $750 per week. Despite his efforts, Sammy experienced an average revenue decline of more than 70 per cent from April to June compared to the corresponding periods in 2019.
  • Sammy was very concerned about how to pay his $5,000 in rent. In late March, Sammy approached his property owner, Mary, about the possibility of reducing his monthly rent. While Mary was very sympathetic, and concerned about her ability to preserve her future rental revenue should Sammy lose his business, she was only able to defer a portion of Sammy’s rent given her own expenses to maintain the commercial property.
  • Sammy and Mary were able to access the CECRA. Mary obtained a forgivable loan from CMHC in the amount of $7,500, equal to 50 per cent of Sammy’s gross monthly rent for April, May and June, and is considering applying for the one-month extension to provide Sammy with a bridge to relaunch his business as the economy re-opens. Sammy and Mary equitably shared the remaining 50 per cent of Sammy’s monthly rent, reducing Sammy’s rental obligations to a more manageable $1,250 per month for the corresponding period.
  • Sammy was able to access the CEWS which provides a subsidy of 75 per cent of an employee’s salary to help him pay for his labour costs. For the months of April to early June, he received a total of $15,750 in CEWS support to pay his four employees.
  • Sammy was also able to access the Canada Emergency Business Account, an interest-free, partially forgivable loan of up to $40,000 to help pay non-deferrable operating expenses for his business, including the rent and payroll expenses remaining after receiving CECRA and CEWS.  Through his financial institution, Sammy could also apply for the SME Loan and Guarantee Program under the Business Credit Available Program should he need additional financing.
  • In addition, Sammy has the flexibility to defer any payment of income tax amounts that become owing until after August 31, 2020, and was able to defer remittance of collected GST/HST and customs duties until June 30.

Small businesses also have access to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which is part of the Plan’s Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). The CEBA provides interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000 and is offered through financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, in cooperation with Export Development Canada. This approach uses existing relationships between businesses and their financial institutions and enables support to be provided broadly and rapidly. As of July 3, 688,000 applicants have been approved for CEBA for a total of $27.41 billion in cumulative funds disbursed, including $7 billion which is forgivable if the loan is paid back before December 31, 2022 (Chart 1.4). Over 65 per cent of the businesses eligible based on the payroll criteria have benefited from the program based on the initial set of eligibility criteria through early June.

Through the BCAP, small to medium-sized businesses can also access a wider range of credit and liquidity support, up to $12.5 million through the Small and Medium Enterprise co-lending program and a further loan of up to $6.25 million under the BCAP Guarantee program. As of July 3, 148 guarantees have been confirmed for a total loan value of over $303.59 million. Based on the experience with similar products made available during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, uptake of these programs is expected to grow steadily over time. 

Chart 1.4
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Program Status1
Chart 1.4: Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Program Status

Notes:
1 Weekly figures represent the sum of all daily figures for the week, to date.  
2 Week when funding transfers were sent to FIs.
Source: Export Development Canada, as of July 3, 2020

  • Text version
      LHS: Cumulative - CEBA Applicants Approved by Weekin thousands RHS: Cumulative - Funds Disbursed by Week (Note 2) In billions
    Week of April 13 246 7.75
    Week of April 20 428 15.29
    Week of April 27 522 19.67
    Week of May 4 571 22.2
    Week of May 11 605 23.77
    Week of May 18 625 24.66
    Week of May 25 643 25.42
    Week of June 1 657 26.09
    Week of June 8 669 26.59
    Week of June 15 678 26.99
    Week of June 22 685 27.29
    Week of June 29 688 27.41
A Small Manufacturing Company

Ali owns a small manufacturing corporation in Markham, Ontario that fabricates auto parts. 75 per cent of its output is exported. The company employs 25 full time employees, each earning an average monthly salary of $4,250. They have had a few large orders suspended, resulting in a 35 per cent revenue drop.

The company was able to access the CEWS for wage subsidies of $79,688/month, for a total benefit of $239,063 for the period of March 15 to June 6, 2020 to maintain its workforce of 25 employees. It can defer any payment of income tax amounts that become owing until after August 31, 2020, giving the business more financial flexibility to address immediate needs. The company was also able to defer payments of GST/HST, as well as customs duty payments on imports, until June 30.

Ali was also able to access the Canada Emergency Business Account, an interest-free, partially forgivable loan of up to $40,000 to help pay non-deferrable operating expenses for his business, including the rent and payroll expenses.

Ali can also speak to his bank about existing business credit products and specific opportunities for relief. If his needs exceed the level of support Ali’s bank is able to provide, the bank could utilize the BCAP SME Loan and Guarantee Program that may offer up to $18.75 million of additional credit for the company.

Support for Mid-market to Large Enterprises

Revenues <$50-$300M+
  • Income Tax, Sales Tax and Customs Duty Payment Deferrals
  • Sector Supports (e.g., Transportation, Agriculture, Energy, Culture, Heritage and Sport, Fish and Seafood Processing)
  • Financial sector liquidity and market functioning facilities
  • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
  • Mid-market Guarantee and Financing Program (BCAP)
  • Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility
  • Enhancements to the Work-Sharing Program

Millions of Canadians are employed by mid-market and large businesses. The government recognizes that firms of all sizes need access to support to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and to recover. Access to financing has become more challenging for companies of all sizes, including larger companies, because the duration of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19 is uncertain and future demand for goods and services is difficult to predict. Companies that would be financially viable after the crisis may not be able to maintain operations until then without additional credit support.

The BCAP is providing support tailored for mid-market businesses across the economy with larger financing needs. These companies tend to have annual revenues of between $50 million and $300 million. Support for these businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million.

Larger companies are regionally or nationally important and key suppliers of goods and services in supply chains. Access to financing supports ensures larger companies can pay the salaries of millions of Canadians these businesses employ, and support the suppliers who rely on their business.

The Plan offers support for Canada’s largest employers to help protect the jobs of millions of Canadians. The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) offers bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing. To qualify for LEEFF, eligible enterprises must be seeking financing of $60 million or more; have significant operations or workforce in Canada; and not be involved in active insolvency proceedings. Companies that have been convicted of tax evasion are not eligible to apply to LEEFF. Companies that receive LEEFF funding are required to publish an annual climate-related financial disclosure report, consistent with the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures, and provide information on how they are contributing to achieving Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and goal of net-zero by 2050. Companies are also required to meet obligations under existing pension plans and collective bargaining agreements.  

Market Liquidity and Credit Support

From the outset, the government moved quickly to support market liquidity to help ensure that businesses could continue to access credit and promote well-functioning provincial funding markets. In cooperation with the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and commercial lenders, the government made over $600 billion in liquidity support accessible.

For example, the Bank implemented facilities to support key financial markets and financial institution liquidity so that they could continue to serve businesses and households and support liquid and well-functioning provincial funding markets. OSFI lowered the Domestic Stability Buffer to increase the lending capacity of Canada’s large banks and support the supply of up to $300 billion in additional lending into the economy. The government also announced that CMHC would purchase up to $150 billion in insured mortgage pools to provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market.

Regional Support

This economic crisis has affected all regions of Canada, but each in its own way. For some regions, the impact has been severe.

The government’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is providing $962 million, through Canada’s six Regional Development Agencies, to support affected businesses that are key to regional and local economies, including in rural communities. These businesses provide good local jobs and support the families and communities they serve. These could be manufacturing, technology, or tourism companies, for example, that need help recovering from the pandemic but don’t qualify for other supports.

Fish harvesters have faced pressures as lockdown measures have combined with lowered demand. The government is making available $469.4 million in grants and income support to support the workers that help feed Canadians families.

In energy-producing regions of the country, Canadians are facing the compounded challenge of the COVID-19 economic crisis and the shock to oil prices. The government is providing $1.72 billion to the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia and to the Alberta Orphan Well Association, to clean up orphan and inactive oil and gas wells. This will help keep Canada’s environment clean and maintain approximately 5,300 jobs in Alberta alone. In addition, the $750 million Emissions Reduction Fund will provide conventional and offshore oil and gas companies with repayable contributions to support their investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conduct research and development. This will be particularly helpful to the offshore oil and gas sector, which is primarily located in Newfoundland and Labrador, and which will receive up to $75 million of this support.

Looking forward to the months, years, and decades to come, Canada’s economy must become more resilient. Canada must continue to diversify and build an economy that is stable, healthy, and equitable, in every region of the country.

Working Together with Provinces and Territories

From the beginning, this has been a Team Canada effort. Federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments have come together to protect Canadians, fight this disease, and stabilize Canada’s economy.

At the federal level there have been a myriad of supports to help provincial and territorial governments through this economic crisis. The Bank of Canada introduced the Provincial Money Market Purchase Program, to support the liquidity and efficiency of provincial funding markets. To supplement this program, the Bank also created the Provincial Bond Purchase Program, helping maintain well-functioning provincial funding markets as governments seek significant funding for their emergency measures to support businesses and households. Combined, these measures have provided $12.4 billion in support.  

Furthermore, the federal government’s income support measures for Canadians —which have effectively replaced all lost labour income in aggregate terms— are also providing significant support to provinces and territories by helping to protect their income tax and sales tax revenue bases. Income tax represents around 35 per cent of provinces’ own-source revenues, and sales tax, for jurisdictions that have it, represents about 20 per cent—both of which have been partially buttressed by federal supports.

As the Canadian economy begins to safely restart, the government will continue to consult with public health officials and work closely with provincial and territorial governments to protect the health of Canadians during this uncertain time. Safely restarting economic activity will require a gradual and phased approach, guided primarily by health and safety considerations, and requiring continued close collaboration and coordination across all levels of government. 

On April 28, the federal and provincial and territorial governments announced a set of common principles for restarting the Canadian economy. These principles will shape how Canada will move forward over the weeks and months ahead. The government will continue to monitor the state of the economy and take action as necessary to protect Canadians and the economy.

“Our priority is keeping all Canadians safe, while getting back to normal as much as we can. That’s why First Ministers have worked on a set of shared principles to gradually restart the economy, based on science and evidence-based decision-making. Together, we will continue to work collaboratively to keep Canadians safe and healthy, and protect our economy.”

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Restarting the Canadian economy is a complex process. The government is committed to working with provinces and territories to ensure the appropriate supports are in place for all Canadians. As announced by the Prime Minister on June 5, the government will invest approximately $14 billion to support provinces and territories in the safe reopening of the country’s economies over the next six to eight months. 

A World-class Response

Countries around the world have taken swift and significant actions to address the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Monetary Fund, policy support announced by G20 countries since the beginning of March, on average, already exceeds the fiscal stimulus provided in the three years that followed the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. 

Economic response plans across countries have generally focused on supporting health care systems, protecting the incomes of workers and their families, and easing cash-flow constraints on businesses through tax and fee deferrals and measures to boost credit and liquidity. Additional monetary and financial stability actions have also been taken.

Chart 1.5
Significant Policy Support Announced across G7 Countries (% of national GDP)
Chart 1.5: Significant Policy Support Announced across G7 Countries (% of national GDP)

Notes: 2019 GDP figures used for comparison purposes. Credit & liquidity support includes indirect liquidity measures (e.g. for Canada, credit and liquidity measures made available by the federal government in coordination with the Bank of Canada, OFSI, CMHC and commercial lenders); cost estimates not available for reduction in reserve requirement ratio by the US Fed and some indirect liquidity measures in euro area countries.
Source: Finance Canada tracking of official announcements by G20 national authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; includes measures up to July 3; Finance Canada estimates for German tax & fee deferrals.

  • Text version
    This chart presents the total impact of Canadian measures announced, as of July 3, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic as a proportion of GDP (2019) relative to packages implemented in other G7 countries. Averages for the G7 and G20 countries are also noted. The measures are broken down into three categories: direct fiscal support, tax and fee deferral, and credit and liquidity support. The percentage noted for each country includes direct fiscal support and tax and fee deferrals. The graph is based on information compiled by Finance Canada from official announcements by G20 national authorities and Finance Canada estimates for German tax and fee deferrals.

Canada’s strong fiscal position going into the pandemic has allowed the government to implement an ambitious economic response plan by international standards. Direct fiscal support measures alone represented over 10 per cent of Canada’s GDP, relative to 6.7 per cent on average for G7 countries, with the bulk of support directed at individuals and households. In comparison, the U.S. plan also devotes a large share of direct support to individuals and households but to a lesser extent than Canada.

Beyond its total size, which is among the most significant in the G7 and the G20, Canada’s plan is also among the most comprehensive, covering a broader range of measures than most plans announced in peer countries. Canada is notably one of the few countries that has announced both a national program to provide commercial rent assistance for small businesses and forgivable credit to SMEs. The range of support to households through Canada’s support measures also compares favorably through this crisis. For example, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy aims to help Canadian employers keep their employees (both active and furloughed) on the payroll. This is in addition to enhanced unemployment benefits provided to Canadians and a broad range of targeted supports for students, seniors and other vulnerable groups.

Figure 1.5
International Comparison of Economic Response Package to the COVID-19 Outbreak
Figure 1.5: International Comparison of Economic Response Package to the COVID-19 Outbreak

*In Canada, this includes supports for Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, people fleeing gender-based violence, people experiencing homelessness, people experiencing hunger, young people, and others.

  • Text version
    This figure illustrates which advanced economies launched specific policy actions under a set of commonly-used stimulus measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Canada's specific measures are compared to those of other G7 economies and 4 comparable advanced economies.

An International Effort

The government recognizes the importance of working with its international partners to address the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada has been working closely with its partners in the G7, the G20, international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and other international organizations, to support global economic stability. This collective work has been aimed at coordinating research efforts; sharing data and intelligence on strategies to delay the spread of the virus; addressing disruptions to international supply chains; and designing and implementing financial assistance to help those in most vulnerable countries.

In particular, together with its G7 and G20 partners, Canada designed and endorsed the G20 Action Plan – Supporting the Global Economy Through the COVID-19 Pandemic. Through this plan, G20 and Paris Club members will suspend bilateral debt services payments on official debt for the poorest countries.

Canada continues to collaborate closely with its international partners to implement these commitments. Canada has also joined trading partners at the World Trade Organization, and in other forums, in calling for open and predictable global trade to maintain the flow of essential goods such as medical supplies and food.

On May 4, Canada joined other global leaders to launch the Coronavirus Global Response to help researchers and innovators develop solutions to test, treat, protect people and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.  During this pledging event, the Government of Canada highlighted investments of over $850 million to support the US$8 billion fundraising target of this initiative. Canada’s support includes funding for vaccine development, mobilizing Canadian researchers’ and life sciences companies’ research and development of medical countermeasures, and contributing diagnostic support to more than 20 partner countries.

In addition, on May 12, the Minister of International Development announced $600 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to contribute to ensuring regular routine immunizations for hundreds of millions of children around the world and reduce the burden of infectious diseases.  

On May 28, the Prime Minister co-convened the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, with the UN Secretary-General and Prime Minister of Jamaica, to look at areas of action to mobilize the financing needed for COVID-19 response and recovery.

On June 27, the Government committed $120 million in support of the activities of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator – with $20 million of that total for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Canada will also invest an additional $180 million to address the immediate humanitarian and development impacts of this crisis, helping communities in developing countries mitigate and address the challenges they are facing right now.

Next Steps

As economies continue to safely reopen and lockdown measures are lifted, everyone must strictly follow virus containment measures to prevent further outbreaks. Nevertheless, the potential for a second wave looms and the experiences of other jurisdictions show the likely possibility of further outbreaks occurring. It is critical that the right measures are in place to ensure the health of Canadians is protected.

The government is committed to working with provinces and territories to ensure the appropriate supports are in place for all Canadians. As announced by the Prime Minister on June 5, the government will invest approximately $14 billion to support provinces and territories to:

These investments will ensure that provinces and territories not only have the assistance they need to support the reopening of their economies and help people return to their day to day lives, but it also ensures they are prepared for the possibility of a future resurgence of the virus.

Beyond this, the government will continue to take actions to improve both the economy and Canadians’ quality of life. The COVID-19 crisis has significantly affected all aspects of Canadians’ lives—from their health to their livelihoods. It is also clear that this crisis has disproportionately affected vulnerable communities and underscored systemic barriers faced by Indigenous and racialized communities in Canada. It is now critically important that Canada pursue inclusive growth and continue to support Canada’s most vulnerable.

Traditional economic measurements such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alone do not give a full picture of Canadians’ quality of life, and the pandemic has further exposed this fact. The government is working on incorporating quality of life measurements into decision-making, including in the development and implementation of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

The Plan has prioritized these factors working as quickly as possible to help as many Canadians as possible - from seniors to students, to families with children and low-income frontline workers, to Indigenous communities. The government will continue to take action to protect vulnerable citizens so they do not fall through the cracks, while supporting a strong economy, promoting sustainability, and reducing inequality and poverty.

This is an opportunity for Canada to build back better through investments in a strong, inclusive and green recovery, which supports new opportunities for workers in every region of this country. Looking to the future, the government must not only think of the months ahead, but the years and decades to come. The government is committed to ensuring that no Canadian is left behind as it works to create a more sustainable and resilient economy in the wake of the pandemic, and for the generations to come.

GBA+ Summary of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic
Response Plan

GBA+ Impacts of COVID-19

While COVID-19 and related public health measures have affected all Canadians in one way or another, the type, severity and extent of the impacts of COVID-19 vary considerably across social and demographic characteristics. Leveraging the themes of the Gender Results Framework, this section briefly discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on diverse groups of Canadians. The Plan was designed to respond to these impacts, and relevant measures are highlighted after each pillar.

Although this analysis sheds some light on the impacts of COVID-19 across varying social, demographic, and economic categories, the government recognizes that this analysis is limited by the availability of data, especially for certain identity factors such as race, sexual orientation and disability. It is clear that there is more work to do to ensure that disaggregated data are collected and to ensure that all of our policy measures are analyzed and implemented from an intersectional lens.

Note on Terminology

In this section, the term "visible minorities" is used because it is the official demographic category defined by the Employment Equity Act and used by Statistics Canada in their surveys, which facilitates longitudinal comparisons.

Education and Skills Development icon

Education and Skills Development
Equal opportunities and diversified paths in education and skills development

Gender Results
Framework
Key Indicators of the Impact of COVID-19
  • Of over 100,000 post-secondary students participating in a crowdsourcing survey from April 19 to May 1, 92 per cent had some or all of their courses moved online, 35 per cent had a work placement cancelled or delayed, and 26 per cent had some of their courses postponed or cancelled. Among post-secondary students expecting to graduate in 2020, 17 per cent would not be able to complete their credential as planned, compared to 8 per cent for continuing students. Differences between men and women were minimal at only a couple of percentage points.

    Note on Methodology

    Although crowdsourcing surveys are key in obtaining timely information about important issues, such as the extent to which COVID-19 is affecting the lives and well-being of different groups of Canadians, readers should note that unlike other surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, the lack of probability-based sampling means that the findings are not representative and cannot be applied to the overall Canadian population. In particular, some groups of Canadians may be over-represented, while other groups may be under-represented.

  • Prior to the announcement of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, 73 per cent of post-secondary students participating in a crowdsourcing survey were very or extremely concerned about using up their savings and 61 per cent were very or extremely concerned about increased student debt. After the announcement, these shares declined to 61 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively. Women participants were more likely to report being concerned than men before the announcement, but subsequently less likely than men to report being concerned after the announcement.
  • 61 per cent of continuing students in doctoral programs who took the crowdsourcing survey were very or extremely concerned about a lack of research funding. There was no difference between men and women.
  • Among the 28 per cent of post-secondary student participants in the crowdsourcing survey who planned to continue working at the job they held at the beginning of March, over half had lost their job or been laid off two months later and a further quarter were still working, but working fewer hours. Women were more likely to have lost their job or been laid off, while men were more likely to be working, but working fewer hours.
  • Of the 18 per cent of post-secondary students in the crowdsourcing survey who had a job with a confirmed start date at the beginning of March, over 7 in 10 had lost their job or had their start date delayed two months later. Although men and women were similarly likely to report having a confirmed start date for a job, women were more likely to report having lost their job or having had their start date delayed.
  • Although only 1 per cent of households with children did not have Internet access at home in 2018, households in the lowest income quartile were 21 times more likely to not have access than households in the highest income quartile. Nearly one-quarter of households in the lowest income quartile reported using only mobile devices for accessing the Internet, three times higher than the share for households in the highest income quartile. Rural households also have difficulty accessing the Internet. In 2017, only 37 per cent of rural households had access to high-speed Internet (50/10 speeds), which is necessary to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the modern Internet. This compares to 97 per cent of urban homes. In Indigenous communities, only about 24 per cent of households had 50/10 speeds.
Government Response To Date
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit for students who are not receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and are unable to find work due to COVID-19.
  • Canada Student Service Grant of up to $5,000 towards students’ fall education.
  • Changes to the Canada Student Loans Program and Canada Summer Jobs.
  • Supporting student researchers and post-doctoral fellows through extensions to research scholarships and fellowships and supplements to research grants.
  • Removing work restrictions for international students under certain conditions.
  • $75.2 million in distinctions-based support to Indigenous post-secondary students.
  • 149,500 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment.
  • Covering up to 75 per cent of costs for eligible wages and research activities at university and health research institutes.
Economic Participation and Prosperity icon

Economic Participation and Prosperity
Equal and full participation in the economy

Gender Results
Framework
Key Indicators of the Impact of COVID-19
  • Between February and April, 5.5 million Canadians were affected by COVID-19 by either job loss or reduced hours. In May, employment rose by 290,000, while the number of people who worked less than half their usual hours dropped by 292,000.
  • In April, the labour underutilization rate – which includes the unemployed; those who were not in the labour force who wanted a job but did not look for one; and those who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours – was 37 per cent, up from 12 per cent in February. In May, it declined slightly to 35 per cent. Although both men and women had a labour underutilization rate of 12 per cent in February, by April, men’s labour underutilization rate was 35 per cent, compared to 39 per cent for women, with each dropping by 2 percentage points in May.
  • Employment losses between February and May were largest in accommodation and food services (44 per cent) and information, culture and recreation (22 per cent). Other industries with notable losses include wholesale and retail trade (15 per cent), manufacturing (10 per cent) and construction (10 per cent). Agriculture saw employment gains of 6 per cent.
  • Reflecting industrial segregation between women and men, women accounted for a disproportionate share of job losses in March, while in April, declines were larger among men. Cumulative employment losses from February to April were thus evenly split between women (17 per cent) and men (15 per cent). However, in May, employment increased more than twice as fast among men than among women, reducing total cumulative employment losses to 13 per cent for men and 16 per cent for women. This is consistent with the more rapid increase in goods-producing industries, which account for a greater proportion of men’s employment than women’s employment.
  • Labour market impacts in March and April were more strongly felt among low-wage workers and youth, who were particularly hard hit by job losses. In May, low-wage workers saw some encouraging rebounds in employment. Although employment among youth increased by 2 per cent in May, this only slightly reduced the cumulative employment losses.
  • Employment among very recent immigrants (five years or less) fell more sharply from February to April than it did for those born in Canada. In addition, there was no rebound in employment in May for very recent immigrants, while employment among those born in Canada rose by 5 per cent. Among recent immigrants, the decline was larger among women than men.
  • Urban and off-reserve Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians have experienced similar cumulative job losses through COVID-19 (11 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively).
  • In a crowdsourcing survey in late-May and early-June, 47 per cent of persons identifying as West Asian, 42 per cent of persons identifying as Filipino, 40 per cent of persons identifying as Korean, and 40 per cent of persons identifying as Southeast Asian reported experiencing a job loss or reduced work hours, compared to 34 per cent of persons identifying as White.
  • Women are also leading the charge as frontline workers in many settings, including in hospitals and long-term care homes, although this comes with a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. For example, in 2019, women comprised 91 per cent of registered nurses, 92 per cent of nurse practitioners, and 91 per cent of licensed practical nurses.
  • Immigrants are also over-represented in certain health care professions. In 2016, more than one-third of nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates were immigrants (86 per cent of which were women) compared to one-quarter of all other occupations. They were also more likely to identify as a visible minority (34 per cent) than workers in other occupations (21 per cent), with Black and Filipino women especially over-represented.
  • Closures of schools and child care services during COVID-19 increased the amount of unpaid work in the home which is disproportionately carried out by women. There is evidence that this has greatly affected employed women’s job performance for those teleworking as well as unemployed women’s ability to return to work or find work, especially when child care is unavailable.
  • In May, 18 per cent of core-aged women with children under 18 years worked less than half their usual hours, compared with 14 per cent of men. While both of these shares are much higher than normal, the fact that women are more likely to be absent from work than men is a long-standing trend reflecting women’s greater share of unpaid care work. This trend has not changed during the COVID-19 period.
  • Between February and April, employment losses were larger among men with children under 6 years than for women (10 per cent versus 8 per cent), while rebounds in May were larger for men than for women (5 per cent versus 2 per cent). Cumulative employment losses from February to May for women and men with children under 6 years were 6 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively. For men and women with children aged 6-12 years, an age group that still requires significant supervision, cumulative employment losses between February and April were 4 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.
  • In 2019, Canada's telework capacity – the share of jobs that could plausibly be performed from home under normal circumstances – stood at 39 per cent. Men's telework capacity (32 per cent) was lower than women's (46 per cent). Part of this difference is explained by the fact that men and women often work in different jobs. For example, jobs in agriculture and construction – where men are over-represented – cannot be performed from home. Financially vulnerable workers, including youth, persons with a high school diploma or less, and low-income families, had the lowest telework capacities.
  • In May, about 1 in 10 Canadian workers thought that they might lose their job or main source of self-employment income in the next four weeks. Low-income workers were the most likely to feel insecure, while there was little difference between women and men or across age groups.
Government Response To Date
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit for those who have stopped working due to COVID-19.
  • Enhancements to the Work-Sharing Program to help employers and employees avoid layoffs.
  • Supporting the safe and sufficient supply of child care for parents returning to work – as part of the approximately $14 billion to support provinces and territories in the safe reopening of the country’s economies.
  • Covering 75 per cent of an employee's wages up to $847 per week for eligible employers through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
  • Provided the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for small businesses from March to June.
  • Up to $3 billion in federal support to increase the wages of essential workers.
Leadership and Democratic Participation icon

Leadership and Democratic Participation
Gender equality in leadership roles and at all levels of decision-making

Gender Results
Framework
Key Indicators of the Impact of COVID-19
  • Canadians trust their public health leaders. In a recent survey, 74 per cent of crowdsourcing participants expressed high levels of trust in provincial or territorial and federal health authorities and 65 per cent expressed high levels of trust in their municipal health authorities. Participants with a university degree were more likely to express high levels of trust in public health authorities than participants with a non-university post-secondary credential or with a high school education or less.
  • COVID-19 has brought many women leaders in medicine and public health into the spotlight. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer is a woman, as are 6 of the 13 provincial and territorial chief medical officers.
  • According to a crowdsourcing survey, as of April, businesses majority-owned by women and other under-represented groups – including Indigenous persons, visible minorities, immigrants, or persons with disabilities – were more likely to report being highly affected by lower demand for their products or services, cancellation of services, uncertain accounts payable, an inability to have staff physically on-site, staff absences and reduced productivity due to remote work, reflecting that businesses majority-owned by men and women are not equally distributed across industries.
  • In the same April crowdsourcing survey, among businesses that pay rent, businesses majority-owned by women, visible minorities and immigrants were more likely to report having had their rent payments deferred. Businesses majority-owned by Indigenous persons and persons with disabilities were more likely to report having requested credit from a financial institution.
Government Response To Date
  • $15 million to the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy to support women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Up to $306.8 million in funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions.
  • 75 per cent or more rent reduction for small business tenants through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance.
  • $287 million to support rural businesses and communities by providing access to capital through the Community Futures Network.
  • $20.1 million for Futurpreneur Canada to continue supporting young entrepreneurs facing challenges due to COVID-19.
  • Credit and liquidity support through the Canada Emergency Business Account and Business Credit Availability Programs to help cover operating costs.
  • $133.0 million to help Indigenous communities support their local economies, including help for small and community-owned Indigenous businesses.
Gender-Based Violence and Access to Justice icon

Gender-Based Violence and Access to Justice
Eliminating gender-based violence and harassment, and promoting security of the person and access to justice

Gender Results
Framework
Key Indicators of the Impact of COVID-19
  • In May, 11 per cent of respondents to a crowdsourcing survey felt that the level of crime in their neighbourhood had increased since the start of the pandemic. Indigenous (17 per cent) and visible minority (14 per cent) respondents were more likely to feel crime had increased.
  • Combined with job losses and financial stresses, self-isolation of victims with their abusers has created conditions that could lead to a rise in intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. For example, consultations between the Department for Women and Gender Equality and frontline organizations, provinces and territories and Members of Parliament after the start of COVID-19 found a 20 to 30 per cent increase in rates of gender-based violence and domestic violence in some regions of the country.
  • In a crowdsourcing survey from late-April to early-May, 1.7 per cent of women and 1.3 per cent of men expressed that they were very or extremely concerned about violence in the home. Percentages for immigrant women (3.4 per cent), Indigenous women (4.3 per cent), and visible minority women (5.8 per cent) were more than twice those of non-immigrant, non-Indigenous, and non-visible minority women.
  • In May, according to data from a crowdsourcing survey, men were more likely than women to report walking alone after dark and to report feeling very safe walking alone after dark in their neighbourhood since the start of the pandemic. This is consistent with reported feelings before the pandemic. Visible minorities and Indigenous persons were more likely to report that they feel unsafe walking alone after dark than their counterparts. Prior to the pandemic, this was true for visible minorities, while there was no difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons.
  • 7 per cent of respondents to a crowdsourcing survey felt that harassment or attacks based on race, ethnicity, or skin colour had increased in their neighbourhood since the pandemic. Differences between men and women were minimal. Young respondents (11 per cent), non-binary respondents (22 per cent), and visible minority respondents (18 per cent), especially Chinese respondents (30 per cent), were significantly more likely to report increases in race-based incidents.
  • 11 per cent of women and 8 per cent of men responding to a crowdsourcing survey reported having contacted a victims' service for a reason related to crime since the start of the pandemic. Young women were especially likely to report contact or use of a victims' service.
Government Response To Date
  • $50 million to existing women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities, including $10 million for Indigenous communities.
  • $350 million to establish an Emergency Community Support Fund to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services.
  • $29 million over two years to begin to build 12 new shelters in Indigenous communities and support their operational costs, and engage on how to help protect and support Métis women, girls, and LGBTQ2 people experiencing and fleeing violence.
  • $157.5 million through the Reaching Home initiative to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Poverty Reduction, Health and Well-Being icon

Poverty Reduction, Health and Well-Being
Reduced poverty and improved health outcomes

Gender Results
Framework
Key Indicators of the Impact of COVID-19
  • Women were disproportionately likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. A similar number of women and men were admitted to the hospital. Men were more likely to be admitted to the ICU after hospitalization and women with COVID-19 were slightly more likely to die, partly reflecting the older average age of the women diagnosed.
  • Seniors, as well as Canadians with underlying health conditions, are most at risk of developing severe complications that require hospitalization.
  • Early evidence from certain municipalities suggests that visible minorities are over-represented among COVID-19 cases. For example, Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health, Dr. Vera Etches, states that since May 8, 66 per cent of the 144 confirmed cases in Ottawa have been from racialized groups.
  • In May 2020, 48 per cent of Canadians reported excellent or very good mental health, fewer than in 2018 (68 per cent). In addition, over the course of the pandemic, Canadians’ mental health has worsened. Almost 1 in 5 Canadians reported symptoms consistent with moderate or severe anxietywomen and youth were more likely to report symptoms than their counterparts.
  • In a crowdsourcing survey in late-April and early-May, 60 per cent of Indigenous participants reported that their mental health was somewhat worse or much worse since the start of physical distancing, compared to 52 per cent of non-Indigenous participants. Indigenous women noted these impacts more than Indigenous men. 51 per cent of visible minorities and 52 per cent of non-visible minorities reported that their mental health was somewhat worse or much worse.
  • 59 per cent of Canadians reported spending more time watching television and 69 per cent spending more time on the Internet since the start of COVID-19. In addition, 35 per cent reported eating more unhealthy foods and 26 per cent reported playing more video games. The share reporting unhealthy food consumption has increased since the start of the pandemic.
  • At the same time, 37 per cent of Canadians communicated with friends and family, 12 per cent meditated, 57 per cent exercised outdoors, 40 per cent exercised indoors, and 23 per cent changed food choices.
  • In 2016, about 1 in 4 Canadians would have been financially vulnerable to an economic lockdown, meaning without government transfers or borrowing, they would not have had enough liquid assets and other private sources of income to keep them out of low income during a two-month work stoppage. Lone mothers, recent immigrants, urban and off-reserve Indigenous people and families where the main income earner has little education were highly vulnerable financially.
  • As of June 24, over 743,000 mortgage deferrals or skip a payments had been provided through 13 banks, equivalent to about 15 per cent of the number mortgages in portfolios, and more than 450,000 credit card deferral requests were in process or completed by 8 banks.
  • In early May, almost 1 in 7 Canadians (15 per cent) reported that they lived in a household where there was food insecurity in the past 30 days, significantly higher than the 12-month experiences reported for 2017-18 when 11 per cent of households were food insecure. Households with children were more likely to be food insecure than households without children.
  • COVID-19 has had a major or a moderate impact on the ability of some families to meet their financial obligations or essential needs. In a crowdsourcing survey conducted in late-May and early-June, 44 per cent of persons who identified as Arab reported these impacts, as well as 43 per cent of persons identifying as Filipino, 42 per cent of persons identifying as West Asian, 40 per cent of persons identifying as Southeast Asian and 39 per cent of persons identifying as Black, compared to 25 per cent of persons identifying as Japanese, 27 per cent of persons identifying as Chinese, and 23 per cent of persons identifying as White.
Government Response To Date
  • $50 million to support Canada’s immediate health response to COVID-19.
  • $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund, including funding for the provinces and territories and Indigenous communities for health research, and for the World Health Organization and other international partners.
  • $2 billion to procure personal protective equipment and supplies for health care workers.
  • Canada Child Benefit top-up payment in May 2020 of up to $300 per child.
  • $240.5 million to develop, expand and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians.
  • $157.5 million through the Reaching Home initiative to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • $350 million to establish an Emergency Community Support Fund to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services.
  • $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone.
  • Up to $114.9 million to support northern communities, including support for air carriers, enhanced food subsidies and other emergency health care preparations.
  • Student loan repayments are suspended until September 30 and interest will not be charged to borrowers on their student loans from March 30 to September 30.
  • $285.1 million to provide targeted increases in primary health care resources for First Nations communities.
  • $270 million to supplement the On-reserve Income Assistance Program.
  • $500 million Emergency Support Fund to help cultural, heritage and sport organizations.
  • $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support seniors.
  • $20 million for expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program to reduce seniors’ isolation, improve seniors’ quality of life, and help them maintain a social support network.
  • $100 million to the Canadian Red Cross to enhance their response capacity and to support public health efforts.
  • $380 million for an Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in Indigenous communities.
  • $2.5 billion for a one-time payment of $300 for all seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension, and an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
  • Facilitating mortgage payment deferrals of up to six months between creditors and debtors.
  • One-time payment for certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit.
  • Special GST Credit top-up payment for low- and modest-income families. The average additional benefit was close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
  • $100 million to support food banks and other organizations providing hunger relief.
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Gender Equality Around the World
Promoting gender equality to build a more peaceful, inclusive, rules-based and prosperous world

Gender Results
Framework
Key Indicators of the Impact of COVID-19
  • ILO reports that women perform three times more unpaid care work than men. This is likely to have increased as schools and child care services closed and women took on more child care and teaching duties, and as more meals needed to be cooked at home.
  • UNFPA estimates that 47 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries may not be able to access modern contraceptives and 7 million unintended pregnancies are expected to occur if the lockdown carries on for 6 months and there are major disruptions to health services.
  • Past experience shows that domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence increases during public health and economic crises and disasters. UNFPA estimates that there will be an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence if the lockdown continues for at least 6 months. 
  • Women make up 70 per cent of health care workers around the world, and even higher shares of care-related occupations, such as nursing, midwifery, and community health care, all of which put them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to close contact with patients. Low pay and poor working conditions exacerbate the risks these workers face.
  • Women’s mental and emotional health has been disproportionately affected during COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 also directly impacts women and children fleeing violence in conflict settings. For example, according to UNICEF, millions of children in Yemen will be pushed to the brink of starvation as a result of the shortfalls in humanitarian aid funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government Response To Date
  • Allocating $442.4 million, as well as another $50 million announced as part of the COVID-19 Response Fund, to support international efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and investing in line with the feminist international assistance policy. This funding will support the development and distribution of vaccines and treatments, including through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The funding will also support COVID-19 international humanitarian appeals, country-specific requests for assistance, and, the enhancement of regional pandemic responses for African countries while focusing on key thematic areas such as reproductive health and rights.

GBA+ Highlights of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

The government recognizes that all Canadians have been affected by COVID-19, but that vulnerable groups have experienced some of the most significant health, social and economic impacts. Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan was designed to provide rapid support that targeted those who need it the most. See Annex 1 for a detailed GBA+ Summary of each of the measures included in the Plan. The following analysis provides a brief summary of some of the aggregate GBA+ impacts of the Plan as a whole. Liquidity measures are excluded from this analysis as this form of support is not directly comparable to direct measures.

When categorized according to target group, to date, 18 measures, representing 8 per cent of the value of the Plan (Chart 1.6), are intended to directly benefit all Canadians, including the Support for the Canadian Red Cross and virtual care and mental health tools for Canadians. Workers as well as workers and employers are the target group for 3 measures each, for a combined total of 6 measures and 72 per cent of the value of the response package. 13 measures, representing 10 per cent of the response package value, are aimed at Canadian businesses and specific sectors. An additional 31 measures, representing 10 per cent of the value of the response, are aimed at particular groups, such as Indigenous peoples, students, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Chart 1.6
Value of Direct COVID-19 Economic Response Plan Measures by Target Group*
Chart 1.6: Value of Direct COVID-19 Economic Response Plan Measures by Target Group*

*Includes total value of direct and health spending of $232 billion as per Table 1.1.

Note: Other subgroups include Families, Women, Children, Persons Experiencing Homelessness, Persons with Disabilities, Food Insecure Households, vulnerable Canadians and Entrepreneurs.

  • Text version
    This chart shows the value of direct COVID-19 Economic Response Plan measures by target group. It shows that workers and employers each accounted for over 35 per cent of the value of the package. All Canadians accounted for less than 8 per cent.  Canadian businesses and specific sectors for 10 per cent, and other groups, such as students, seniors, and persons with disabilities, for another 10 per cent.
Chart 1.7
Value of Direct Measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by Gender
Chart 1.7: Value of Direct Measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by Gender
  • Text version
    This chart shows the value of direct measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by gender. It shows that 14 per cent of the value of the measures benefitted mostly women, 9 per cent benefitted mostly men, while the remainder of the value was broadly gender balanced.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low-income Canadians. That is why the Plan proposes a number of measures which are directly targeted at lower-income Canadians (Chart 1.8). This includes the Surplus Food Rescue Program which benefits Canadians that rely on social assistance or disability-related income support and who may rely on hunger relief organizations such as food banks. Similarly, the primary beneficiaries of temporarily enhancing the GST Credit are individuals and families with low and modest incomes who were already receiving the status quo GST Credit. Seniors and single parents – single mothers in particular – benefit from this measure at a higher rate than the general population due to their lower average incomes. In contrast, other measures have characteristics that make them more likely to benefit higher-income Canadians, such as the business income tax payment deferral.

While older generations are at higher risk of health implications as a result of the pandemic, younger generations have been affected disproportionately financially and in terms of employment opportunities.

Chart 1.8
Income Distributional Impacts – Value of Direct Measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by Recipient Income Level
Chart 1.8: Income Distributional Impacts – Value of Direct Measures
              of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by Recipient Income Level
  • Text version
    This chart shows the value of the direct measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by recipient income level. It shows that over 35 per cent of the value of the measures mostly benefitted higher-income persons and over 45 per centmostly benefited lower-income persons. 15 per cent of the value of the measures did not have significant distributional impacts. No measures mostly benefited high-income persons and only a small share mostly benefitted predominantly low-income persons.
Intergenerational Impacts – Value of Direct Measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by Age Group of Recipients
  • Text version
    This chart shows the value of the direct measures of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan by age group of recipients. It shows that 5 per cent of the value of the package mostly benefited youth, while 1 per cent mostly benefitted seniors. The remainder of the packaged had no significant intergenerational impacts.

Accordingly, although 93 per cent of the Plan’s value benefits all age groups, 8 measures target youth specifically, representing 5 per cent of the value, while 7 measures are targeted at seniors, representing 1 per cent of the value. For example, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit provides income support to eligible post-secondary students and recent graduates facing financial difficulties who are unable to find work or unable to work due to COVID-19. Similarly, the New Horizons for Seniors Program is designed to ensure that seniors benefit from, and contribute to, the quality of life in their communities through social participation and active living. This specific investment is meant to help address social vulnerabilities created by COVID-19 and beneficiaries will tend to be relatively more vulnerable seniors, including low-income seniors and seniors with disabilities.

GBA+ Summary of the CERB and CEWS

Of all the measures announced to date as part of the Plan, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are two of the most important in supporting a wide range of Canadians through COVID-19. The impacts these measures have had on diverse groups of Canadians are summarized here. The GBA+s for the remaining COVID-19 response measures are summarized in Annex 1.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

GBA+ timing
Mid-point
Target population
Workers Affected by COVID-19
Expected Direct Benefits
Gender
○─○─●─○─○
Benefits
Men – Women
Income
○─●─○─○─○
Strongly Benefits
Low – High
Age
○──●──○
Benefits
Youth – Seniors

The CERB provides direct income support to Canadians of working age who have stopped working or whose works hours have been reduced due to COVID-19.

Although this measure was not designed to target a specific demographic or group, the CERB is benefitting those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 including lower-wage and young workers as shown in Chart 1.9 and described below.

Chart 1.9
Proportion Reporting Submitting an Application for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit between March 15 and the day of their LFS interview between May 17 and 26, 2020
per cent
Chart 1.9: Proportion Reporting Submitting an Application for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit between March 15 and the day of their LFS interview between May 17 and 26, 2020

Note: Off-reserve Indigenous includes urban Indigenous peoples.
Source: Labour Force Survey Supplement.

  • Text version
      Per cent
    Total 18.6
    Men 18.5
    Women 18.7
    15-24 27.9
    25-54 19
    55-69 12.4
    Public sector 4.7
    Private sector 12.1
    Self-employed 39.8
    Born in Canada 16.8
    Landed immigrant 22.5
    Not Canadian-born or a landed immigrant 25.5
    Off-reserve Indigenous 13.4
    Non-Indigenous 18.7
Gender
Women accounted for a disproportionate share of job losses in March, while in April, declines were larger among men such that cumulative employment losses from February to April were evenly split between women (17 per cent) and men (15 per cent). In May, employment increased more than twice as fast among men than women, reducing total cumulative employment losses to 13 per cent for men and 16 per cent for women. Between March 15 and mid-May, both women and men were equally likely to have applied for the CERB.
Age
The economic shutdown has been especially severe for youth and students. Although employment among youth aged 15 to 24 years increased in May, this only slightly reduced total cumulative employment losses since the start of the pandemic. Younger workers have a higher application rate than the rest of the population with over a quarter of youth having applied for the CERB between March 15 and mid-May. Comparatively, just under one in five of those aged 25-54 years and only 12 per cent of those aged 55-69 years applied for the CERB in this period.
Newcomers
Very recent immigrants (five years or less) have been hit hard by the labour market impacts of COVID-19. Data show that just under 1 in 4 landed immigrants and just over 1 in 4 of those not born in Canada had applied for the CERB between mid-March and mid-May, while this rate was less than 1 in 5 for those born in Canada.
Region
The CERB application rates are highest in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. Reflecting both population dynamics and differences in approaches to flattening the curve, Ontario and Quebec accounted for two-thirds of total applications.
Indigenous
Employment losses among the urban and off-reserve Indigenous population have been comparable to those of non-Indigenous Canadians. Despite this, the application rate for the CERB from the urban and off-reserve Indigenous population is lower than that of non-Indigenous Canadians.
Visible Minorities/Racialized Canadians
Although we have no data on the CERB for visible minorities, we know that racialized Canadians and communities have been disproportionately affected by the health and economic crises. Moreover, we know that immigrants and youth—two groups with a higher proportion of visible minorities—have higher application rates than other Canadians. This is, however, only suggestive and a more detailed analysis will be required at the end of the program to better understand the impact of the CERB on visible minorities.
Industry
Accommodation and food services experienced a greater drop in employment from February to April than any other industry. The drastic impact on the accommodation and food services industry has resulted in the highest application rate with 43 per cent of those employed or formerly employed in this industry having applied for the CERB.
Income
Nearly 1 in 4 employed workers in the lowest income quintile – those making $600 or less per week – had applied for the CERB between mid-March and mid-May. The likelihood of employed workers reporting having applied for the CERB declines as incomes increase, as just under 1 in 7 in the second lowest quintile ($601 to $842 per week) and less than 1 in 10 in the third quintile ($843 to $1,160) report having applied for the CERB.
Employment Category
For self-employed workers, the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown has been felt primarily through a significant loss of hours rather than a loss of employment. For example, in May, 43 per cent of self-employed workers worked less than half their usual hours for COVID-19-related reasons. As a result, 40 per cent of self-employed workers report applying for the CERB, while only 12 per cent of private sector and 5 per cent of public sector employees applied.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

GBA+ timing
Mid-point
Target population
Workers and Employers affected by COVID-19
Expected Direct Benefits
Gender
○─○─●─○─○
Benefits
Men – Women
Income
○─○─○─●─○
Strongly Benefits
Low – High
Age
○──●──○
Benefits
Youth – Seniors

To help employers through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government implemented the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Its purpose is to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers who were laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help position businesses to resume normal operations more easily following the crisis. For eligible employers, CEWS covers 75 per cent of an employee's wages, up to $847 per week.  The following section includes information based on current applications for the program; however, given the likelihood of additional applications, these results may not be representative of program beneficiaries as a whole; a more complete assessment will be feasible once 2020 income tax data are available.

As of June 29, 2020, there were a total of 538,080 CEWS applications approved. In the first claim period, from March 15 to April 11, over 2.8 million employees were supported, with an average monthly amount of $2,061 per employee. In the second claim period, from April 12 to May 9, over 2.7 million employees were supported, with an average monthly amount of $2,359 per employee. In the third claim period, from May 10 to June 6, almost 2 million employees were supported, with an average monthly amount of $2,331 per employee.

Shareholders and Owners
Shareholders or owners of eligible businesses may benefit from CEWS, since the subsidy could help reduce labour expenses at a time of reduced business activity.
Industry
Current CEWS applicant data shows that the industry with the largest number of employers receiving the CEWS in all three claim periods was professional, scientific and technical services (Chart 1.10). In contrast, the largest number of employees covered in all three claim periods were in manufacturing and accommodation and food services.
Chart 1.10
Distribution of Approved Applications Across Industries by Claim Period
per cent
Chart 1.10: Distribution of Approved Applications Across Industries by Claim Period

Source: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

  • Text version
    This chart shows the distribution of approved Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) applications across industries by claim period. It shows that in all three claim periods, the largest number of employers receiving the CEWS were in professional, scientific and technical services. It shows that other industries with large numbers of claims include accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and construction. Industries with relatively fewer claims include utilities and public administration.
Firm Size
As of June 29, 2020, in all three claim periods, just under three-quarters of approved applications were from small-sized employers with 25 or fewer employees, and less than one-quarter came from medium-sized employers with 26-250 employees. The remainder came from large employers. Despite the larger number of claims from small employers, medium-sized employers accounted for the largest number of employees supported per claim period. These results may reflect in part the fact that smaller employers have fewer employees and are more liquidity-constrained than larger employers, some of whom may apply for the program later.
Region
Whether based on the number of employers or number of employees covered, beneficiaries were most likely to reside in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, reflecting that these regions have the largest population sizes. In fact, the distribution of employees covered by province and territory closely aligns with total national employment in February 2020.
Individuals Accessing Non-Profit Organizations
Individuals accessing non-profit organizations and charities may benefit from this measure.
Indigenous Communities
Indigenous government-owned businesses may be eligible for the subsidy, which may benefit Indigenous communities.
Gender
Although no data are available on the gender composition of the employees receiving CEWS, current CEWS applicant data show that the largest number of employers receiving support in all three claim periods were in professional, scientific and technical services, while the largest numbers of employees covered were in manufacturing and accommodation and food services. In professional, scientific and technical services, 56 per cent of employed workers in February 2020 were men. Men are also more likely to work in manufacturing (71 per cent of employment in February 2020), while women are slightly more likely to work in accommodation and food services (55 per cent of employment in February 2020). As a result, it is possible that men are slightly more likely to be covered by the CEWS than women. This is, however, only suggestive and a more detailed analysis will be required once 2020 income tax data are available.
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